Facility Study FAQ

What does DPW do for the community? 

The Department of Public Works is a multi-functional department charged with the responsibility of providing a variety of services to the public as well as maintaining the City’s multi-million dollar infrastructure. The Department provides day to day essential services that ensure public safety, health and protects the environment 

Although you may not hear or read about the Public Works Department very often, our employees are hard at work - in the trenches maintaining and improving the City's infrastructure. We ensure that your trash is picked up, water is flowing from your tap, sewer lines are clear, wastewater is treated properly, traffic signals are working, streets are drivable, City facilities are clean and useable, City vehicles are maintained properly, and parks and median strips are maintained to an aesthetically pleasing level.   

 The Department of Public Works has six divisions: 

  • Building and Sign Division: maintains and repairs the City’s buildings and street signs
    • Maintenance and repairs to all City-owned buildings, from daily custodial care to painting 
    • All street signage related to traffic control and parking throughout the City, including all street line markings such as crosswalks, centerlines, and striping municipal parking lots 
    • Painting and labeling all City equipment 
    • Miscellaneous painting, carpentry repairs, and remodeling throughout the City 
    • Setup for special celebrations’ street decorations including seasonal celebrations or special event celebrations  
  • Electrical Division: maintains the City’s street lighting and traffic control signals
    • Maintaining, repairing, installing, and synchronizing the traffic signal operation at all signal-controlled intersections in West Allis 
    • Maintaining, repairing, and installing street light poles and lamps throughout the City 
    • Laying duct lines under new pavement, installing cable, drilling and pouring pole bases, setting new poles, and making the final splices to light the lamp fixtures during the road construction season 
    • Performing electrical repairs, construction, and maintenance at all City buildings and properties including the Library, Police and Fire Stations, Senior Housing units, Senior Center, Municipal Market, water pumping stations, parking meters, school parking lots, playgrounds, and ball fields  
  • Forestry Division: maintains the City’s street trees and public grounds  
    • Planting and maintaining the 22,000 trees along streets, boulevards, parks, and public grounds that contribute to the attractive appearance of our City 
    • Maintaining 15 miles of grass area on boulevards plus over 100 green areas such as City parks, pocket parks, municipal building grounds, water tank sites, a historical cemetery and the Senior Housing complex 
    • Planting over 28,500 annual plants each spring in flowerbeds throughout the City 
    • Providing snow and ice control to the City's public parking lots as well as the parking lots of the City's municipal buildings during the winter months 
    • Providing staff support for the Public Beautification Committee 
    • Sponsoring the annual awards for Commendable Property, Best Porch, and Patriotic Display programs  
  • Sanitation Division: collects and disposes of refuse and recyclables 
    • The collection of refuse from one through three family residences 
    • The collection of recyclables from one through four-family residences 
    • Serving nearly 17,500 parcels or 20,800 total residential units 
    • Properties are serviced from either a curbside location or an alley location 
    • Snow and ice control with 192 lane miles of streets, 39 residential plow routes, 16 main thoroughfare routes, 15 miles of public sidewalks, over 45 dead-end streets, 40 cul-de-sacs, 20 bus stops, 20 bridge walk areas and approximately 30 municipal parking lots in the City  
  • Street and Sewer Division: maintain the City’s streets, alleys, sidewalks, and sewer systems 
    • Repairing and maintaining 194 miles of City streets, 43 miles of alleys, and 278 miles of sidewalks 
    • Repairing and maintaining 152 miles of storm sewer and 177 miles of sanitary sewer 
    • Repairing and replacing various types of street and alley pavement, including filling potholes, patching and crack filling 
    • Shimming sidewalk slabs that have been displaced or replacing deteriorated slabs
    • Sweeping streets throughout spring and summer
    • Collecting yard waste in spring and fall  
  • Water Division: provides safe and sufficient drinking water and water for fire protection
    • Meter reading 
    • Meter installation, maintenance, and repair 
    • Water main maintenance and repair 
    • Hydrant installation, maintenance, and repair 
    • Water tower and reservoir cleaning, maintenance, and repair 
    • Water tower and reservoir pumping, supply, distribution, and treatment 
    • Diggers Hotline emergency and standard service locates 
    • Emergency water main break repair 
    • Maintenance of services and curb stops 
    • Flushing of fire hydrants and flow testing 
    • Exercising and replacement of valves 
    • Working with contractors on new water main installation and testing 
    • Sampling water for coliform bacteria and disinfection by-products for compliance with DNR and EPA 

Where is the current Public Works facility? 

The Public Works building is located at 6300 W. McGeoch Avenue in West Allis.  This location includes the city dump.  DPW also operates the Morgan Avenue Self-Help Drop-Off site which is open seasonally and is located on 116th St, south of W. Morgan Avenue. 


Why does the DPW need a new facility? 

The current DPW facility was built in 1941 and needs $5,800,000 in maintenance work over the next 10 years.  The facility urgently needs $600,000 for roofing and HVAC and electrical work this year alone.  In addition, the facility needs $1,600,000 for Security and ADA upgrades as well.  There are also deficiencies in the current building that impede the ability to work efficiently thereby wasting valuable staff time.  These deficiencies include very congested driveways, inadequate locker rooms, and restrooms and team room spaces, sub-par workspaces, inadequate wash rack space causes delays and deterioration of equipment, inefficient and aging building systems, strained and slow inventory system, unhealthy and unsafe conditions for employees, lack of covered storage which causes equipment deterioration, and inadequate parking and circulation space.  

Can the existing facility be reused or updated to suit your needs? 

DPW currently operates on a 7-acre parcel of land.  Experts who design public works facilities have determined that the City needs more than twice that much land.  The lack of space shows because the current property has an inefficient, confusing, and dangerous traffic pattern.  There is also not enough room to properly store vehicles or equipment, which shortens the life of those devices and costs the taxpayers more to replace.  Plus, the buildings on the current site have a lot of costly, overdue repairs to deal with.  Remodeling a poorly designed building or rebuilding without sufficient space to fix the current problems is not a smart use of money. 

What does the current facility lack? 

The existing Garage includes these major deficiencies: 

  1. Space to house equipment, stock, and workstations 
  1. Clear and ample circulation paths for equipment and workflow 
  1. Close access to equipment and stock 
  1. Control and security of inventory stock 
  1. The environmental health of the interior 
  1. Security from theft and personal attacks 
  1. Separation of public and vendor interaction from staff 
  1. Supervisorial lines of sight and communication ability 
  1. Supportive crew facilities and gender balance 

How big is the current facility? 

The Department of Public Works Facility located at 6300 W. McGeoch Avenue was built in the early 1940s on property that encompasses 7 acres and another half-acre across the street for employee parking. There are several buildings that are used for operations and storage at this site. The main garage area built in 1944 is approximately 98,934 square feet. The North building of the main garage area was constructed in 1958 and is used for cold storage and welding operations. It is a linear building, essentially a series of bays and storage areas used in conjunction with the main garage area but not connected.   

Three other structures are located on the property: The salt dome is independent of the main garage area which is approximately 8,100 square feet and used to store the City’s salt supply; the drop-off center building is 400 square feet and is used for operations related to the City’s drop-off area. The Janka building is 8,700 square feet and provides cold storage for various inventory items for the department. The construction of this building is unknown but may have been constructed in the 1930s.   

The current location at 6300 W. McGeoch Avenue limits the amount of equipment and materials that can be stored there. Additional locations are used to properly store and process materials to maintain existing services. 

What functions are proposed for the new facility and how many square feet? 

The existing main garage building is 98,934 square feet.  Experts have determined that the future garage should have 223,190 square feet.  That means the main garage building should be more than double its current size. 

The new building will include: 

  • Consolidation of departments and remote shops to one garage 
  • Flex-shop space combining department shops 
  • Separating garages from proximity to residential homes 
  • Community compatibility and aesthetics 

The new building will also accommodate social trends: 

  • Privacy and security in the workplace  
  • Active shooter mitigation 
  • Worker health, safety, and privacy are a priority 
  • Gender-neutral facilities  
  • Younger workforce attraction and retention 
  • Sustainability as a value/priority 
  • Severe weather adaptation 

Why do you need more space than you currently have? 

The primary reason for a significantly larger-sized facility is to increase the size of the heated parking. The Heated Parking Garage and the Fleet Repair Garage account for most of the building's square footage increase. Those two spaces account for 98,265 additional square feet but that additional square footage allows for all DPW vehicles to be stored inside.  

The new parking garage would accommodate all vehicles currently in the fleet and reduce long-term maintenance and replacement cost by housing these expensive assets indoors.  Many of the DPW divisions were able to reduce their office square footage needs using shared crew and support spaces.  

How many vehicles/equipment does DPW maintain? 

DPW has 156 vehicles and trailers that need heated parking and 52 vehicles or trailers that can be stored in cold storage.  DPW also has 36 pieces of equipment that need heated parking and 104 pieces that can be stored in cold storage. 

Was a facility assessment done? 

In 2018, the City of West Allis commissioned McKinstry to provide an action plan for the replacement of the City’s Public Works Facility (reference Legislation Text File # R-2017-0448). The primary purpose of this analysis is to enable the City of West Allis to chart the best path forward for the long-term stability and success of the Department of Public Works, considering budget estimates for various options, the current and future needs of Public Works employees, known space available, and the input of City stakeholders.  You can view the report files here:

How many employees will work out of the new facility? 

DPW employs 135 full-time staff and 25 seasonal staff and the Engineering Department may relocate their employees to the facility as well.  

What is the basis for the cost of the facility? 

The City’s architect used typical costs per square foot from other recently built facilities.  The typical costs include: 

         Construction Type Cost per Sqf:  

  • Vehicle Garage $110  
  •  Repair Garage $150 
  • Shops/Inventory $140 
  • Crew Support $170 
  • Truck Wash $130 
  • Cold Equipment Storage $70 
  • Cold Parking Storage $70  

Can the facility be smaller or less expensive? 

No, our architects have concluded that the above deficiencies would require putting more time and money into the Department’s operations; decreasing equipment longevity; decreasing asset control management, communication, and supervision between staff; and increasing risk exposure.  

Are there any functions that you can do without? 

Many of the DPW divisions were able to reduce their office square footage needs using shared crew and support spaces.  

What type of building will it be, and how long is this facility expected to last? 

The building and yard will last over 70 years.  

Will the facility include any “green” sustainable systems? 

The building and yard will be environmentally sustainable through: 

  • Durability and impact resistance 
  • Ease of maintenance and cleaning 
  • Corrosion resistance 
  • Applying sustainable principles 
  • Integrating Resilient Design standards  

The building will include LEED sustainable design components.  Possible opportunities include: 

  • Renewable Energy 
  • Potable Water sources 
  • Passive HVAC 
  • Natural lighting 
  • Structural hardening 
  • Local materials 

The building will also include accommodations for: 

  • Electric Vehicles 
  • Autonomous Vehicles 
  • Charging stations 
  • Electronics shop repair focus vs. combustion engine repair 

Why do the vehicles and the equipment need to be stored inside? 

Lack of sufficient parking stalls for heavy equipment requires vehicles to be parked outside and exposed to snow, rain, and sun. This induces a faster rate of deterioration of the metals, hydraulics, and mechanized attachments. In the winter, trucks parked outside must be hooked up to an engine heater and cleaned of snow, including their dump beds. This adds 15 minutes in the morning for each operator. 

Where will the new building be located? 

The City is currently looking for the space to build a facility of this size. 

How much will a new facility cost? 

The estimated cost is expected to be between $40,000,000 and $60,000,000. 

When will the new facility be built? 

We hope to start construction by 2024 


We are providing this information so that you can learn about the need for a new facility and how it will benefit the city and the taxpayers and compare that benefit to the cost. 

There is an online form on the City’s website for the public to provide input. You can provide feedback here

What will the project cost me? 

The city would finance this project using municipal bonds, which are paid from real estate taxes.  The annual cost would depend on the value of your real estate, the type of debt, and the term of the loan.  For a home assessed at $150,000, at a project cost of $45 million: 

  • A 20-year bond would increase real estate taxes about $125 per year  
  • A 10-year bond would increase real estate taxes about $225 per year 

Can the American Rescue Plan (ARPA) dollars be used to pay for the new facility? 

Yes, but only to the extent applicable to water, sewer, or storm water operations. 

  • ARPA aligns with the rules for the following EPA revolving loan funds.
  • Drinking-Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF)
  • Further guidance provided by Wis. Admin Code NR 166.07(1)(c) 
  • Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF)
  • Further guidance provided by Wis. Admin Code NR 162.04(1)(a)4 
  • Current calculations estimate around 20% of a new facility may qualify under ARPA 
  • This type of use would carry a higher audit risk as allocations of this kind are subject to interpretation

How can we be sure the project will be well-managed? 

The City will employ reputable engineers and architects with extensive experience.  

What risks does the City face if the project is not approved? 

Those deficiencies listed above regarding the structure and operating systems within the facility will require the needed long-term repairs and, in some cases, total replacement.  The current DPW facility was built in 1941 and needs $5,800,000 in maintenance work over the next 10 years.  The facility urgently needs $600,000 for roofing and HVAC and electrical work this year alone.  The facility needs $1,600,000 for Security and ADA upgrades as well. 

The following inefficiencies caused by the size and format of the facility will continue to exist and are currently costing the City $600,000 every year in lost time:  

  1. Space to house equipment, stock, and workstations 
  1. Clear and ample circulation paths for equipment and workflow 
  1. Close access to equipment and stock 
  1. Control and security of inventory stock 
  1. The environmental health of the interior 
  1. Security from theft and personal attacks 
  1. Separation of public and vendor interaction from staff 
  1. Supervisorial lines of sight and communication ability 
  1. Supportive crew facilities and gender balance